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Rare corridor structure found at pagoda site of Japan's Todaiji temple

Archaeologists discovered the corridor that used to surround the East Pagoda of Todaiji temple here had a rare structure never found anywhere else in Japan.

Rare corridor structure found at pagoda site of Japan's Todaiji temple
The site of Toto (east pagoda) at Todaiji temple in Nara, with the Great Buddha Hall visible in the background 
[Credit: Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties]
After being destroyed by fire in a war during the Heian Period (794-1185), the pagoda was reconstructed in the Kamakura Period (1192-1333), but later burnt down again.

Officials of Todaiji and other institutes said on Oct. 3 that the corridor around the pagoda consisted of two passageways running parallel to each other, a structure known as “fukuro.”

“The fukuro structure can be typically found in central facilities of large temples built during the Nara Period (710-784), indicating they have a high status, but only Todaiji has been confirmed to have had a fukuro corridor around a tower,” said a member of the research team that surveyed the former site of the pagoda.

The team of archaeologists from Todaiji, the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, are studying the grounds where the east tower formerly stood.

Rare corridor structure found at pagoda site of Japan's Todaiji temple
Miniature of Toto on display in the Great Buddha Hall of Todaiji temple in Nara 
[Credit: Gen Hashimoto]
When the team examined the remains of the southern part of the corridor for the pagoda reconstructed in the Kamakura Period, it found holes for foundation stones for pillars of the corridor.

Based on the arrangement of the pits and other elements, the researchers concluded that the corridor comprised two passageways and was six meters wide.

In addition, 12 base stone pits for pillars to support a gate at the center of the southern part of the corridor were also discovered.

The southern gate is estimated to measure 13 meters east to west and seven meters north to south. That compares with the size of the Rengemon gate at Toji temple in Kyoto, which is designated a national treasure, the researchers said.

According to the research team, some corridors, such as one surrounding Kofukuji temple’s Chukondo hall, which was constructed in the Nara Period, have turned out to have a fukuro structure based on the surveys on their remains, but Todaiji’s is the first corridor set up around a pagoda to be confirmed to have consisted of two passageways.

Source: Ryo Miyazaki | Source: The Asahi Shimbun [November 06, 2017]

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